John Koegler ran a charter on the Starfish off Long Beach Island Tuesday, July 5, and they were trolling - chasing sand bar sharks and catching small bluefish. Koegler, who also has Pop's Pride for six or fewer passenger charters, trolled small spoons for 1 to 1 1/2-pound blues for a charter that included kids.
There was plenty of excitement in the background while he was on the phone, so a lot was going on. By mid-morning, he says he had 15 blues. He says these blues just showed up a couple of days before. Koegler's assessment is that it is a good time of the year to go fishing. Offshore action has been outstanding, and flounder fishing is pretty decent. If the ocean is nasty, he moves around Little Egg Inlet for flounder. And now, bluefish have joined the mix.
He agrees with the assessment of others that the quality of the keeper flounder is excellent. He says some of the flounder are in "prime shape" and "lots to eat" because they are so thick one or two can be dinner for the crew that caught them. Koegler operates from Morrison's Marina in Beach Haven.
He says offshore action is following a warm-core eddy drifting south. He says a five-degree temperature break concentrated bait fish and a lot of tuna came in on them, including yellowfin tuna with white marlin mixed in. Other reports added blue marlin. Koegler says mahi and skipjacks add to the fun.
A few weeks ago, Koegler racked up eight sand bar sharks and a 45-pound bluefin tuna.
The first bigeye tuna was reported by Fin-Atics in Ocean City. Greg Smith of Ocean City battled a 229-pound bigeye tuna while fishing at Spencer Canyon on July 1. It was certified for The Press Fishing Contest.
Competition fishing transitions to offshore in July. The schedule starts out with several back bay and inshore flounder contests and then moves to deep water.
Grassy Sound Marina in North Wildwood stages a flounder tournament July 9. The boundary is Corson's to Cold Spring inlets, and the cost is $200 for a boat crew of up to four. It has divisions for heaviest, three heaviest, youth 15 and younger and women. The captain's meeting is 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 8. Call 609-846-1400.
Absecon Saltwater Sportsmen puts on the Roy Kerstetter Open for flounder, bluefish and weakfish July 16. It sets up a Field of Dreams Day on the Bay on the Fish Finder partyboat out of Brigantine. The captain's meeting is 7 p.m. July 15 at Absecon American Legion Post 28, New Jersey Avenue and Mill Road. The entry fee is $65 per boat. Call 609-422-2322 or 609-748-8208.
Two flounder contests are the same weekend.
Kelly's Corner Pub has a two-day event July 16 and 17 based in Atlantic City. Call 609-348-4925. The Duke of Fluke begins July 16 at Sterling Harbor Bait and Tackle in Wildwood. It has $1,500 for heaviest flounder and $1,600 for heaviest five plus junior age 14 and younger and women's divisions. Captain's meeting is 7:30 p.m. July 15. Call 609-729-1425.
The 24th annual South Jersey Carpenters Flounder Pounder is July 23. This one has been changed from the original format and date. The entry fee is $20 per person, and tickets are available at North Point Marina in Brigantine, Dolphin Dock in Somers Point, Chestnut Neck Boat Yard in Port Republic and Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. First place for heaviest fish is $500. Proceeds go to South Jersey Cancer Fund. Call 609-653-8995.
South Jersey Tournaments gets its offshore schedule started July 13 to 17 with the 22nd Viking/Ocean Shootout. On July 20 to 23, it's the Mid-Atlantic Tuna Tournament. Call 609-884-2400.
July wraps up with the 42nd Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club's White Marlin Open on July 27 to 30. This is a qualifier for the IGFA World Championship, according to the BHM&TC website.
(Email tournaments to ShepOnFishing@yahoo.com)